Lockdown is driving demand for London commuter towns

Lockdown is driving demand for London commuter towns
Nov 14 , 2020

Property keyword searches on Google have skyrocketed in August year-on-year in St Albans (60%), Brighton & Hove (36%) and Bath (59%), the research from Hamptons International has found.

Transport links and proximity to the office are becoming less important considerations for those looking to relocate. Instead, a speedy broadband connection and a comfortable work from home set up are top priorities, along with green spaces and walkable town centres.

Meanwhile, the added risks from coronavirus mean employers are more open to flexible schedules to help commuters avoid travelling during peak hours, making the journey into town quicker and easier. Working from home has also proven a feasible reality for many who may otherwise have been reluctant to adopt the remote working trend.

Hamptons have seen a sharp surge in the number of Londoners registering with their regional offices in August this year when compared to 2019.

For instance, St Albans(pictured)has seen a 77% increase and Bath a 97% increase, while the numbers for Brighton & Hove have gone up a staggering 141%.

All this suggests that changing circumstances mean changing priorities for city-dwellers.

Commuter towns or London Boroughs – Where to Find the Best Yields?

So, if not everyone is deserting city life, where can landlords expect to achieve the best yields? Commuter towns or London boroughs? The answer isn’t as clear-cut as you might think…

New research ranking rental yields across London against its main commuter hubs to see which are currently proving the best investment for landlords in terms of rental yields has found that London is still clinging onto its top-ranked status with London boroughs securing six out of ten of the top average performing yields.

The research by lettings management platform Howsy found that the London borough of Tower Hamlets in east London is currently the best location to own a buy-to-let investment out of the London boroughs and commuter towns assessed (see table below) as it produced an impressive average rental yield of 4.7 per cent.

The other London boroughs in the research’s top ten, which calculates the yields based on average house prices and average monthly rents for the area, are Newham in north-east London with an average yield of 4.5 per cent, Barking and Dagenham in east London and Lambeth in South London in joint fifth place with yields of 4.4 per cent and Greenwich in the south-east of London achieving an average yield of 4.3 per cent.

However, there are some commuter towns that have returned higher yields than the majority of the London boroughs with Harlow (to the north of London) and Reading (to the west) ranked second and joint third out of the 53 towns and boroughs measured, achieving yields of 4.6 per cent and 4.5 per cent respectively.


Overall, the current average London yield of 4.1 per cent still reigns over the City’s 20 major commuter hubs, which overall return an average yield of 3.7 per cent. That said, just seven London boroughs are home to a current yield at or above the Capital’s average, with several performing on a similar level to their commuter town peers.

There are also some commuter further towns returning a yield at or above that of the London average such as Luton to the north of London (4.2%), Crawley in West Sussex (4.2%) – both taking a top ten ranked position – as well as Slough to the west of London and Dartford in Kent both returning average yields of 4.1 per cent.

So, for the time being, at least, the capital remains a stronger market overall when it comes to investing in a rental property. Howsy’s Founder and CEO, Calum Brannan, agrees commuter towns are as popular as ever, however, he doesn’t foresee London’s popularity changing any time soon, he commented: “The commuter belt has always been popular amongst tenants searching for rental affordability within touching distance of the capital, but with many now facing more time working from home this trend looks set to intensify.

“However, landlords won’t be leaving London for the commuter hills just yet as this demand is yet to have a notable lift on rental prices and, as a result, yields.”